Judge in Paul Manafort trial apologizes for rebuking prosecution

Judge in Paul Manafort trial apologizes for rebuking prosecution

In a blistering back-and forth, Paul Manafort's lawyer suggested Tuesday that the star witness in the former Trump campaign chairman's financial fraud trial has told "so many lies" he can't remember all of them.

In one exchange published in court Wednesday, Manafort instructs his Cypriot lawyer, Kypros Chrysostomides - referred to in court as "Dr. K" because, according to Gates, his name is hard to spell and pronounce - to transfer money from the Manafort-controlled Leviathan Ltd.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, says Gates was heavily involved in helping hide millions overseas.

Ellis sustained an objection from the prosecution and Gates never answered the question about four affairs, but some observers said the damage had already been done.

"I'm here to tell the truth and take responsibility for my actions", Gates said in response to a question from Downing about his trustworthiness.

After Downing asked Gates Wednesday whether he had multiple affairs, Judge T.S. Ellis had a private conversation, out of earshot of the jury.

This was a way to decrease Manafort's taxable income, added Gates, who did not report the money to Manafort's book-keeper or accountants.

In an email shown to the jury, Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump, wrote to Gates on November 24, 2016, "We need to discuss Steve Calk for Sec of Army".

NBC's Pete Williams also reported that prosecutors want Ellis to "explain to the jury that he was out of line when he reprimanded them over allowing an IRS agent witness to watch other testimony", according to NBC's Ken Dilanian.

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Gates, who testified Monday and returned to the witness stand Tuesday, detailed years of alleged lawbreaking at Manafort's political firm and admitted to stealing money from secret overseas bank accounts. "This robe doesn't make me anything other than human".

Regarding a trading company Manafort had started with a partner in 2011, he asked with deep scepticism: "You're asking the jury to believe Mr Manafort authorised another US$250,000 as a bonus?" "This is an especially severe risk when the core of the case is the testimony of a co-conspirator who is admittedly a thief, liar, and embezzler". But on Tuesday, he denied using that money to finance his extramarital relationship, saying he used "bonus money" and "family money".

The case against Manafort has little to do with either man's work for the Trump campaign and there's been no discussion during the trial about whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russian Federation - the central question Mueller's team has tried to answer.

But Downing wasn't able to re-ask Gates the question about four extramarital affairs. "Mr. Manafort had the same path". People in the packed public gallery could only try to lipread as they saw a grim-faced Andres make a series of hand gestures.

Gates, under questioning by prosecutor Greg Andres, admitted that he padded his expense accounts with phony charges without Manafort's knowledge, siphoning "several hundred thousand" dollars from the secret accounts.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Manafort blamed errors in loan paperwork on Manafort's former right-hand man Rick Gates, who was handling the process for his boss. "I'm here", Gates responded. Prosecutors allege Manafort used various ways to hide his income, including wiring money from Ukraine to the United States via a bank in Cyprus and listing it as a loan, and laundering almost $1 million through the purchases of Oriental rugs.

Gates pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February and agreed to cooperate with the government. Gates also provided the first witness testimony that overlaps with Trump's presidential campaign.

The email exchange about Calk occurred after Manafort left the Trump campaign but while Gates was active on the Trump inauguration committee.

Manafort attorney Richard Westling also attempted to sow doubt in Magionos's testimony regarding the authenticity of the Manafort signature on various documents that were presented.

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